As one of the youngest riders in the An Post – CRC squad this season, Wilson’s lack of age was no disadvantage as he tackled the challenging course of La Samyn– his first major outing for An Post – CRC after last weekend’s Beverbeek Classic.
Finishing in the main bunch of just over 60 riders on the same time as winner Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) Jack said he was very comfortable throughout the five hour stage.
“It was a great experience, in fact it was surreal standing on the start line looking around and seeing pro-tour riders I only see on television. The race was fast from the start then we hit a number of hills in the middle section of the race some with cobble stones. When the race arrived at the finishing circuit the gas was turned right up! I managed to hold a good position and finished in the front bunch. I was pleased with my performance at this level in a quality field. Moral is high in the team right now and I am looking forward to my next series of races.”
An Post-Sean Kelly manager, Kurt Bogaerts said he has been impressed with Wilson but insisted his first year with the team would be a learning process.
“Jack is a very strong rider and today’s result shows that he can be in the mix. We’re at the start of the season and there are many more miles ahead for us as a team”
Jack pictured far right with fellow Irish teamates Sam Bennett, Ronan McLaughlin and Sean Downey
The move to An Post – Chain Reaction has been a big step for Jack. CRC’s PR Manager Simon Cordner caught up with him at the recent team presentation in Belgium
Jack you're no stranger to Chain Reaction Cycles as you previously worked for us at HQ, as you start this season as one of our professional sponsored athletes with The An Post Chain Reaction team – did you ever think this day would come?
It's been a bit of a whirlwind even now at the start of the season. I joined the team at the start of the week and go straight into the Beverbeek Classic and Le Samyn. I spent last season here in Belgium but it's a bit different this year in that I'll be racing as opposed to just making it round!.I like the Belgian style as it’s always full on – they soon let you know if you're having a good day or a bad day.
What are your plans for the season?
Hopefully I'll continue to progress this season and get a few results under my belt. I'm determined to work hard this season as I know it'll pay off. Race wise I'd like to do the An Post Ras, although we have such a strong team that I know I'll have to fight for my place in order to ride it.
Have you had much advice from Sean Kelly?
I haven't had any run-ins with Sean yet but he's been great in encouraging me in the off season and giving me lots of small pieces of advice. The set-up this year is brilliant, Vitus bikes are great, the equipment is 100% and the team focus is fabulous.
Team Boss Sean Kelly just can't keep off the teams new Vitus Bikes!
This season is a big step up for you moving to An Post – Chain Reaction, was it a change you really needed?
It is, last year was a bit of a disaster to be honest. I'd had a good winter, a few training camps in Spain and I started the season with really good form. I rode BVB with the team as a wild card entry- rode round and was glad I had the legs forint. The following week I raced what turned out to be four and a half hours in miserable rain and 2 degrees temp. The day started in 9 degrees so I was just kitted out in a light base layer, jersey and some arm warmers. I had no cape, no gilet… Nothing! So I spent a pretty awful four hours in the saddle that day. That really set me back as it took a while to recover and then I started to panic train in order to get back and it ended up a vicious circle. Safe to say it was a lesson learnt!
There are plenty of Irish guys on the team again this year – a few of which have stayed for a few years. What are your plans in terms of the medium term?
I'm really happy to be a part of the An Post / Chain Reaction team, I'd love to spend a few years here and then progress up the ranks after that. Ideally I'm aiming for world tour level but I know it'll be a hard journey to get there.
Will you be back home to Northern Ireland much – with the Giro starting in Belfast next year would you fancy a crack at it?
Is it actually coming to Belfast? That'll be amazing! The chance to race the Giro in my home city would be incredible… But that's maybe a step too far! I'll probably head back home a few times this year and do some races to boost my morale. It's not so easy to keep the chin up when you're getting a kicking week in week out here. It's nice to head back and get a few results from time to time.
The next race for the An Post – Chain Reaction team is the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen March 1st – 3rd.